FDI inflows increased during President Mahinda Rajapaksa's tenure
- Minister LakshmanYapa Abeywardena
Investment Promotion Minister LakshmanYapa Abeywardena said the total
number of Foreign Direct Investments(FDIs) gained by Sri Lanka from 1978
up to 2005 was US$ 3 billion.However, US$ 8 billion worth FDI inflows
have come in during President Mahinda Rajapaksa's tenure from 2005 to
2013 which is a 74 percent increase in FDIs.
The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said when we
look at the past, all former governments expressed confidence over
Europe as they thought the world was under Europe. It is only President
Mahinda Rajapaksa who emphasised to the Asian countries that this was
not so and as a result the country has gained tangible benefits.
The Minister said nearly 35 percent of the world's FDIs were coming
in from developing countries. At present investments were largely made
in Asian countries. That is why, the Government is promoting investment
with Asian countries.
However, the Opposition is misleading the people and obstructing
investment from flowing into the country. They know this Government
cannot be defeated at village level as it has developed infrastructure
facilities in villages and the President has a close rapport with the
people. The Government has equally developed villages and towns.
The UNP is aware that only by disrupting the country's economic
growth the Government can be weakened. That is why UNP economists are
attempting to mislead the people and were obstructing the inflow of FDIs.
Q: What are the key economic benefits to Sri Lanka from the
Chinese President's visit?
A: The construction of the Colombo Port City is one of the
biggest investments that we gained from China.If China didn't make this
investment, we would have never turned this offshore city into a
reality. This project was one of our dreams.
Because US$ 1.3 billion investment comes from China without any land
being given by us. A misconception has been created among the public
that the Government has given land to China. I would like to ask where
is this land? There is no such land as claimed by the Opposition.
The Government has given 273 hectares in the sea off Galle Face Green
to China to reclaim and construct this Port City. Of that, the total
extent of land area in the sea, 20 acres will be given to China as an
outright grant while the other land area will be given based on leasing
The Government decided to give 20 acres on an outright basis to build
confidence as this is a historic project launched in Sri Lanka. China
has not implemented this kind of project in any other country.
A Chinese President visited Sri Lanka after a lapse of 28 years. This
Port City project would be the biggest project implemented in Sri Lanka
and it would help to increase the inflow of FDIs in the next few years.
China has laid the foundation to commence the construction of that mega
China has also extended its support to implement the second phase of
the Norochcholai Project.Continuous breakdowns in the Norochcholai coal
power plant was another problem that was encountered. Those who
constructed this project are aware of the defects.A technical agreement
will be signed where China will offer us technical assistance and
technology to repair the power plant.
It will also make billions worth of investment to commence the next
phase of the Hambantota Port. This would be a golden opportunity. When
the US share market collapsed, it was China who helped them on two
occasions. As US economic experts predict, China would be the world's
biggest economic power in the next 40 years.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is lucky to attract this huge Chinese
investment to Sri Lanka.
China, is the only country which has economic capability to give
strength to our investments.Now we have obtained that facility.
Q: Nearly 20 agreements were signed during the Chinese
President's visit, forging closer ties in the political, economic,
cultural and social arena. Would you like to explain?
A: Those agreements were based on socio, economic, political,
cultural and agricultural aspects. As an Asian country which possesses a
laudable history, if we can exchange our cultural values between two
countries, it would be important at this stage. Some of these agreements
reached are vital for social development and welfare. the political
aspect is yet another advantage gained from these agreements.
They were signed preserving our political identity.Nobody can say
that we have surrendered to China. We get assistance from every country.
We have obtained assistance from Japan as well.
According to the 'Mahinda Chinthana' , Sri Lanka is not alligned to
any country. Under the 'Mahinda Chinthana', we will move forward based
on our own cultural identity.
We signed these agreements without any harm to that cultural bond.
We should go for an eight percent economic growth by 2016. To reach
this target, we should have US$ 5billion worth FDI inflow. Our FDI
inflow is US$ 1.3 billion. It is difficult to reach this target without
attracting this kind of huge investment from China.
The Port City project would be a boost to reach the target of US$ 5
billion FDIs by2016. The investment made for the machinery of the second
phase of the Hambantota Port development project will also bring
billions worth FDIs to Sri Lanka. The total number of FDIs gained by Sri
Lanka from1978 up to 2005 was US$ 3 billion. However, US$ 8 billion
worth FDIs were attracted during President Mahinda Rajapaksa's tenure
from 2005 to 2013.
There is a 74 percent increase of the FDI inflow during President
Mahinda Rajapaksa's time. The FDIs obtained by the Investment Promotion
Ministry has also shown 51 percent increase in June this year compared
to the figures of June last year.
The Ministry has attracted US$ 921 million FDIs by the end of August
this year compared to US$ 540 million FDIs gained during the
corresponding period last year. The decision made by some countries to
make their investments in Sri Lanka has led to this huge FDI inflow.
Q: How do you analyse the visits made by prominent world
leaders to Sri Lanka during President Mahinda Rajapaksa's tenure?
A: If you look at the past, all former governments were
confident about Europe. They thought the whole world s handled by
Europe. It is only President Mahinda Rajapaksa who looked at the
emerging Asian countries,so the country has benefitted. Nearly 35
percent of the FDIs in the world comes from developing countries.
At present investments are largely made in Asian countries. That is
why, we are also promoting our investments with Asian countries. We
could sign Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with Japan and China.
We have already signed FTAs with India and Pakistan.As I said
earlier, Sri Lanka should achieve 8 percent economic growth by 2016.
This economic growth should be achieved to get productive results from
the investments that we have made on infrastructure.
This growth cannot be maintained without bringing US$ 5billion FDI
inflow to the country. My target is to attract US$ 2billion FDIs this
If we take Vietnam as an example, in1990, both countries were at
equal position on exports. At that time, the total value of export
earnings of the two countries was US$ 2000million. At present, Vietnam
makes an exports worth over US$ 130billion compared with US$ 10 billion
exports made by Sri Lanka.
Vietnams's FDI inflow has increased ten fold compared with our FDIs.
The key reason is that Vietnam has signed FTAs with 28countries. But our
Opposition is misleading the people and obstructing investment from
flowing into the country.
They deliberately do that. There are a few economists in the UNP who
know that this Government cannot be defeated at village level as it has
developed the infrastructure facilities in villages and the President
has a close rapport with the people. The Government has equally
developed villages and towns. Therefore, the UNP knows that by
disrupting economic growth is the only way to attack the Government. If
we cannot achieve 8 percent economic growth by2016, whatever Government
is in power will not face these problems. But our Government has the
ability to reach this target.That is why the UNP economists are
attempting to mislead the people and are obstructing to the inflow of
Q: What are the plans drawn up by your Ministry to ensure FDI
A: We follow several strategies to reach our targets. We have
signed two agreements with two Japanese banks to commence an exchange
program between the business community of two countries.
Nearly 25 million leading Japanese businessmen are dealing with one
of these banks. We would commence an exchange program with big
businessmen who have dealings with this bank.
We intend to carry out investment promotion through them. We would
also sign an agreement with Exim Bank of China to commence the same
business exchange program to promote investments. We have also laid
emphasis on some European countries such as Germany.
Q: Certain sections of the media reported that the Government
was going to transfer the Norochcholai power plant to China. Is there
any truth in this?
A: I categorically deny that. The MoU on the Norochcholai
power plant has already been released. That MoU was signed after held
discussions with trade unions. It has also been discussed with the
engineers of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
Usually, the MoU is formulated by the Ministry after a consensus is
reached at a discussion attended by the CEB Chairman, engineers and
trade union. Actually, Norochcholai was the first coal power plant set
up in Sri Lanka.
When it resumes operations,certain shortcomings and breakdowns may
occur. According to the MoU signed between two Governments, the Chinese
Government will extend their support to conduct operations of this power
plant in a more productive manner.
However, China would not interfere regarding the maintenance or
operation of this power plant as claimed by certain sections of the
media. China would also extend itsr support to purchase necessary
equipment for the plant.
Q: The on-going investigation on Sri Lanka by the office of
the High Commissioner for Human Rights has also been backed by Pillay's
successor Prince Zeid Al-Hussein. Would this investigation have an
adverse impact on Sri Lanka?
A: Actually this is a pre-planned investigation. This is an
injustice made on a country. Even if they conduct that investigation,
the Government's position remains unchanged. What we have done is only
the eradication of LTTE terrorism from Sri Lankan soil.
But the UNHRC turns a deaf ear to grave human rights violations
taking place in the Gaza strip, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq or the
recent incidents in the UK. I think Europe has also realised the
seriousness of the threat of terrorism.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa didn't succumb to the pressure exerted by
the West and the NGOs. As a Leader who loves his motherland, the
President rejected to implement the agenda proposed by the West. We had
to face these repercussions as we defeated terrorism through a homegrown
strategy without being subjected to the pressure of the West.
Q: Do you hope for a landslide victory for the Government at
the Uva PC elections this time as the UNP has fielded a vibrant chief
A: The outcome of election results would show that no change
will be made in Uva. It is obvious that the majority of the people of
Uva are with the Government.Therefore, the Government has no fear about
Uva PC election. The Government will capture power in the Uva Provincial
Council on September 21 with a comfortable majority.
Q: The Opposition attempted to portray a violence-hit election
atmosphere in Uva especially in the Moneragala district. Would you like
to comment on this?
A: A large number UPFA campaign offices were attacked and
destroyed by armed gangs. The Police has been given powers to deal
strictly with those who violate election laws. Therefore it is up to the
Police to implement the law.
Q: How do you describe the recurrent political crisis in the
hierarchy of the UNP? Will the Uva election results cause further
dissension in the party preventing any unity among them?
A: The UNP will further collapse after the Uva PC elections.
UNP leaders will never unite. The UNP will not gain the expected results
at the Uva PC election. I see this election as yet another electoral
defeat faced by the UNP.
Q: Is there any truth in media speculations that the
Government is planning early elections,possibly in January next year?
A: Most probably, it would happen. That election will be held
on an appropriate date to be fixed by the President.
Most probably, there will be an election in January next year. I
would state with responsibility that a Presidential Election will be
Q: Various interpretations have been made on the legality of
the President contesting the third term. What is the actual position?
A: According to the amendments made to the Constitution, the
President can contest more than two terms. There is no provision in the
Constitution to prevent a President who has completed two terms of
office to contest for a third term.
Without a legal argument, this is a political story projected to
create fear among the majority of the people who extended their support
to the President, that he cannot contest for a third term.
By doing so, certain sections may attempt to distort the mindset of
the people with the intention of bringing a weak candidate into power.
This misconception will be debunked after nominations are given. Laws
are formulated by Parliament which represents the people.
The people will be asked whether they would like to elect President
Mahinda Rajapaksa fora third term or not.
We have to analyse which is important, the verdict given by the
people or this baseless legal argument. The people would respond when
nominations are given. There is no doubt that President Mahinda
Rajapaksa would come into power for a third time as well.
Q: Sections of the civil society,professionals and other
influential sections have underlined the needof a new constitution. Your
A: If not for the Executive Presidency, we would have not been
able to end the war against terrorists. If the Constitution is to be
changed, all political parties should join hands and discuss it.
It was the UNP which introduced this Executive Presidency and has now
joined with those who are clamoring to abolish it. The UNP which is the
pioneer of the Executive Presidency gave maximum powers through the
The others who also demand to abolish it have helped the President
Those who demand to abolish the Executive Presidency are aware that
they cannot defeat President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Their contention is that
if the Constitution is changed and a new system is introduced without
going for a Presidential Election, there would be some advantage to
them. My view about the Executive Presidency is that all political
parties should reach a consensus to reduce its powers.It should not be
changed to cater to the personal interest of some people.